EU: Russian voters had no real choice

The presidential elections held by Russia on March 15-17 took place in a highly restricted environment exacerbated also by Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on March 18.

“Russian authorities have continued to increase the systematic internal repression by cracking down on opposition politicians, civil society organisations, independent media and other critical voices with the use of repressive legislation and politically motivated prison sentences,” Borrell said.

“The shocking death of opposition politician Alexei Navalny in the run-up to the elections is yet another sign of the accelerating and systematic repression.”

Borrell said that the elections took place in an ever-shrinking political space, which has resulted in an alarming increase of violations of civil and political rights, and precluded many candidates from running, including all those opposed to Russia’s illegal war of aggression, deprived Russian voters of a real choice and heavily limited their access to accurate information.

“The European Union will continue to support the important work of Russian civil society organisations, human rights defenders and independent media.”

He said that the EU regrets the decision of Russian authorities not to invite OSCE/ODIHR observers to its elections.

“This runs contrary to Russia’s OSCE commitments and has denied Russia’s voters and institutions an impartial and independent assessment of these elections,” Borrell said.

He said that the EU strongly condemns the illegal holding of so-called “elections” in the territories of Ukraine that Russia has temporarily occupied: Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, as well as in parts of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.

The so-called “elections” in these territories represent yet another manifest violation by Russia of international law, including the UN Charter, and of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, Borrell said.

“Referring to the two UNGA Resolutions of October 12 2022 and March 27 2014, we urge Russia to respect Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders and sovereignty.

“The European Union reiterates that it does not and will never recognise either the holding of these so-called ‘elections’ in the territories of Ukraine or their results. They are null and void and cannot produce any legal effect whatsoever. Russia’s political leadership and those involved in organising them will face consequences of these illegal actions.”

Borrell said that the EU reiterates its unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

“Russia must cease its illegal war of aggression against Ukraine and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its military forces and equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine.”


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